Monday, May 28, 2007

Writing My Personal Statement Is Making My Head Explode

The first in what is likely to be a long line of posts about getting an MBA. Provided, of course, that I get this part right and actually get accepted.

For those of you who haven't ever been intimately involved in applying to an MBA program its a lot like applying to college. You take a test (did I mention that I rocked the GMAT?), fill out application paperwork, and then supply a bunch of supporting materials. For the particular program to which I'm applying this includes a résumè and a "personal statement" which is supposed to, I dunno, give screeners insight into your worthiness as an individual or something like that.

Those of you who read this blog on a regular basis (all 2 of you) know that I've no problem writing at length about random topics. Why is it, then, that I'm finding the production of a 3-page personal statement to be such a draining endeavor? In my case part of it seems to be the prompt that I'm writing to, which boils down to "write a personal statement, and make sure you address these questions". This, I'm lead to believe, is somewhat idiosyncratic of the program to which I'm applying; it seems like many MBA programs want a couple of essays, but this program is trying to cram everything into one essay. I'll not provide specifics, since it'd be too easy to identify the program, but there are some standard questions ("tell us about a time you worked in a team", "tell us about a time when you were a leader") combined with some questions which are specific to the program.

Whomever developed the application materials might just as well have said "go out, shoot a woolly mammoth, and include one tusk with your submission". Its fairly obvious that they put together the prompt without considering whether it was possible to produce a coherent, well-crafted essay which meets all of the requirements. The questions that I have to address have very little in common; its damn near impossible to weave them into an organic essay which doesn't look like its being written to a prompt. Of course you can't be too subtle, otherwise the people scoring the essay might miss the fact that you answered the question. So you end up with this mishmash essay that's really little more than the answers to the individual questions strung together with some (hopefully clever) transitions. I don't see a point to that excercise; surely whomever is reading these things could get just as much information out of a series of short answers. It would make it a lot easier for all those people who are spending just 2 minutes reading your work.

Oh yeah, and can I get a big "Fuck you, halleluah!" for Accepted and all if its invaluable advice? "To thine own self be true"? I hate that quote... if people did their goddamn homework they'd realize that those particular words of wisdom were delivered by someone with a personal-integrity problem.

It's most certainly not OK pursue truth too honestly when you're writing your personal statement. Its not OK to say that you want an MBA 'cause otherwise you're going to be someone else's rack monkey for the rest of your life. Ditto the money angle... its definitely not kosher to say that you want to make a fistfull of dollahs. Crap, what does that leave? "I want an MBA so I can be more impactfullicious."? There's only a few reasons why people really get MBAs: money, control, or recognition. Well, ok, maybe I'm being too harsh... some MBA applicants might want to work 80 hours a week so they don't have to see their families. Don't give me that crap about people wanting to maximize their frickin' potential... if you're feeling un-maximized you don't need an MBA to fix that. Not unless your idea of self-actualization involves ordering other people around or getting others to recognize your greatness.

But you gotta dress it up in that language anyway, 'cause that's the way the game is played. Gah... it makes my brain hurt just thinking about. I'm not entirely sure what these essays are even intended to prove; they're too artificial to provide any kind of window onto the person doing the writing. At best they weed out the people who were too dumb to go out on the Internet and look at all of the sample essays, do-and-don't lists, etc. All they prove is that the writer had the necessary perseverance to go through the motions of making the sausage (and they may have had some help with that part).

Well, in the very least, I feel better having ranted a little bit.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Um, you did see the opening 'graphs of the Mental multivitamin post, right?

The advice Polonius gives Laertes in Act I, Scene iii (see below) is nothing more than a laundry list of sparkling platitudes garbed in a threadbare cloak of (alleged) senior wisdom. It's no wonder that folks who return to Hamlet (again and again) are certain that Ophelia's father is among the lowest of Shakespeare's creations.

It seems pretty clear that M-mv knew Polonius for the skulking hypocrite he was.

4:52 PM  
Blogger GG said...

Yeah, I saw that. The MM post was just a convenient link to demonstrate the context of the quote; I didn't intend to imply anything negative about their understanding thereof.

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Term paper said...

You don't see a point to that Excercise surely whomever is reading these things could get just as much information out of a series of short answers.

5:21 AM  
Anonymous Term papers said...

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3:16 AM  

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